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AIR Fabrication Shops Help Customers with NEW OSHA Guidelines

AIR Fabrication Shops Help Customers with NEW OSHA Guidelines

Associated Industrial Riggers Corp. has multiple fabrication shops.  Each shop is equipped with experienced staff and state of the art equipment.  The most common jobs we work on are fabrication of industrial stairs, ladders, walkways, and platforms.  I recently read an article from OSHA that stated, falls from ladders account for 20 percent of all fatal and lost work-day injuries in general industry. When you stop to think of that number, 20 percent is a large number.  We are a safety-focused company, and we pride ourselves on the reputation of being detailed-oriented. As I read the article on ladders, it reminded me that details, even down to the critical inches on the OSHA guidelines for ladders are extremely important.  In this blog, I would like to review the new set of OSHA requirements designed to protect workers from falling from fixed and portable ladders.   Here are a few of the most common noncompliant ladder issues we have seen and a reminder of the new requirements.   

Weight load requirements:  It is amazing how often older ladders do not meet the general weight load requirements.  Under the new rule, “ladders must be capable of supporting their maximum intended load, while mobile ladder stands, and platforms must be capable of supporting four times their maximum intended load. Each ladder must be inspected before initial use in a work shift to identify defects that could cause injury.”

Use of Cages and Fixed Ladders: From our perspective, we see replacing cages as the most common measure that needs to be done to be compliant with the new guidelines.  Use of cages has been the industry standard for years, and now most industrial plants will have to phase out and replace with personal fall arrest systems.  

“Fixed ladders are permanently attached to a structure, building, or equipment. These include individual-rung ladders, but not ship stairs, step bolts, or manhole steps. The new rule phases in a requirement for employers to have ladder safety or personal fall arrest systems for fixed ladders that extend more than 24 feet and phases out the use of cages or wells for fall protection under the following timeline: Starting in two years, all new fixed ladders and replacement ladder/ladder sections must have a ladder safety or personal fall protection system. For existing ladders, within two years, employers must install a cage, well, ladder safety system, or personal fall arrest system on fixed ladders that do not have any fall protection. Within 20 years, all ladders extending more than 24 feet must have a ladder safety or personal fall arrest system.”

Portable Ladders – “Portable ladders usually consist of side rails joined at intervals by steps, rungs, or cleats. They can be self-supporting or lean against a supporting structure. The final rule will be easier for employers and workers to understand and follow because it uses flexible performance-based language instead of detailed specification and design requirements. Under the revisions, employers must ensure that: rungs and steps are slip resistant; portable ladders used on slippery surfaces are secured and stabilized; portable ladders are not moved, shifted, or extended while a worker is on them; top steps and caps of stepladders are not used as steps; ladders are not fastened together to provide added length unless designed for such use; and ladders are not placed on boxes, barrels, or other unstable bases to obtain added height.”

In addition, here are a few additional tips to help maintain your ladders. Every organization should have a designated person inspecting and maintaining ladders.  That person should have training and a clear understanding of OSHA safety standards and should remove the ladders and take them out of commission when necessary.  

The following OSHA ladder inspection requirements are specified in their safety standards. There are more, but here are a few that relate directly to the topic of ladders for your review.   

  1. 1926.1053(b)(2) – Ladders shall be maintained free of oil, grease, and other slipping hazards.
  2. 1926.1053(b)(15) – Ladders shall be inspected by a competent person for visible defects on a periodic basis and after any occurrence that could affect their safe use.
  3. 1926.1053(b)(17) – Fixed ladders with structural defects, such as, but not limited to, broken or missing rungs, cleats, or steps, broken or split rails, or corroded components, shall be withdrawn from service until repaired.
  4. 1910.23(b)(9) – Ladders are inspected before initial use in each work shift, and more frequently as necessary, to identify any visible defects that could cause employee injury.
  5. 1910.23(b)(10) – Any ladder with structural or other defects is immediately tagged “Dangerous: Do Not Use” or with similar language in accordance with 1910.145 and removed from service until repaired in accordance with 1910.22(d) or replaced.

Associated Industrial Riggers Corp can help you identify areas of non-compliance for ladders as well as stairs, walkways, and platforms.  As a reminder, the final deadline for installing a ladder safety system or personal fall arrest system for ALL ladders is November 18, 2036. If you are installing new equipment now, make sure you are working with a company that looks ahead and fabricates with the new guidelines in mind. There is no reason for you to have to go back in 10-12 years and fix.  Give us a call at 1-800-724-3888 if you need new stairs, walkways, ladders, or platforms fabricated or modified to meet new OHSA requirements.